Ruth Newman

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Ruth Newman, age 94, on 22 Oct 2011

Ruth Beatrice Newman (nee Coulter) (2 July 1917 - 20 October 2016) was an award-winning pianist, insurance claims adjuster, and longtime widower from Canada.

Early life

Ruth was born in Calgary, Alberta, on 2 July 1917 to Reverend Joseph Coulter and Williamina Bessie Coulter. She was the fourth of seven children born to her father, a minister. Her father's job took her family on several moves during her childhood.

In 1931 she moved with her family to Manitoulin Island, Ontario, and then in 1935 to Toronto, where would remain for most of the rest of her life.

In 1938, Ruth's parents moved to Sunderland, so she began boarding at Milverton Boulevard, in Toronto. By coincidence (or not?) "Milverton" was also the name of the village where her father was born.

ARCT prize ceremony, 21 October 1941

She received the Associate, Royal Conservatory Toronto (ARCT) teaching diploma in a ceremony on 21 October 1941. She received the prize for top marks that year.

Marriage and family

She married Bruce Newman on 10 October 1942 and had three children by him:

Ruth named her first-born daughter's middle name after her brother Hubert Coulter who had died 7 May 1943 in WWII.

Ruth named her second-born daughter after her brother Everett Coulter who had died 20 February 1944 in WWII.

Ruth has 10 grandchildren:

As of 2018 she has 9 great-grandchildren:

  • By Meredith: Charlotte, Aria (born 6 July 2016)
  • By Vanessa: Brynn (born 6 January 2014)
  • By Andrew: Benjamin, Holly, Dominic, Bridget
  • By Carolyn: Cole, Bentley (both born 31 December 2017)

Thus, all her blood descendants remain alive, and they number 3 + 10 + 9 = 22.

Timeline

Date Age Domicile Event
2 July 1917 0 Calgary, Alberta Born
July 1923 6 Jasper Park, Edmonton, Alberta Moves
July 1927 10 Little Current, Manitoulin Island Moves
July 1931 14 Scarborough Junction, Toronto, Ontario Moves
July 1933 16 Obtained Driver's License
21 June 1938 20 Ruth sits for the Grade 10 Royal Conservatory piano exam
July 1938 21 Milverton Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario Parents moved to Sunderland, so she began boarding at Milverton Boulevard
19 June 1941 23 Ruth sits for the Royal Conservatory ARCT piano exam
July 1941 24 Parents moved to Waverly Boulevard, to retire when father was 70. They inherited $7000 from the hermit (!) bachelor uncle of mother. Grandmother came to live with them.
21 October 1941 24 Royal Conservatory ARCT Concovation Ceremony; Ruth wins the top prize for the top marks.
17 March 1942 24 St Patrick's Day Dance; Ruth plays piano for the event; this was the day she met her future husband Bruce Newman
June 1942 24 Engaged to be married to Bruce
10 October 1942 25 Marries Bruce Newman
October 1942 25 2040 Gerrard Street East, Toronto Rents flat at Gerrard Street East
July 1944 27 Bungalow on Sutherland Avenue, Leaside, Don Mills Purchases a house
5 August 1944 27 Sandra Hugheen born.
4 March 1945 27 At Hart House, Ruth plays the piano at the wedding of her oldest sibling, Flight Officer Wes Coulter.
19 July 1946 29 Evelyn Elaine Louise "Lynn" born.
18 July 1948 31 Mother died of complications during gall bladder surgery. Grandmother died soon after, "of a broken heart."
July 1949 32 Appleby Road in Islington (later Etobicoke, now Toronto) Moves because Bruce was headhunted for a job with HEPCO (now Ontario Hydro)
30 July 1950 33 Mary Ann born
July 1954 37 #9 Chelford Street, Don Mills Moves since Bruce went back to Sangamo Company
16 March 1960 43 Father dies
1961 43 Guelph. (College Street?) Moves
1962 44 Tan Valley, Toronto Moves to a "beautiful house!" - Ruth
1963 45 Guelph. (University Street?) Moves
27 June 1968 50 Bruce dies
July 1968 51 18 The Donway East, Don Mills, Ontario Moves into a second-floor apartment, where she will live for over 41 years.
1977 - 1987 60 - 70 Her ten grandchildren are born.
July 1982 65 Visits Thunder Bay for a few weeks/months to help her daughter Mary Ann raise her son, infant Michael Currie
Circa 2002 85 Stops driving her very old white car (model?)
2003 January to April, September to December 86 Ruth lets her grandson Michael Currie live with her in the second bedroom.
March 2010 92 Greenview Lodge, 880 Lawrence Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario A series of strokes forced her to be moved out of her longtime residence in Don Mills. She initially moved to Greenview Lodge, 880 Lawrence Avenue East, just up the street from her apartment.
Later in 2010 93 Allandale Long Term Care, 185 Ontario Street South, Milton, Ontario Moved to long-term care facility, with frequent visits and extra care provided by her daughter Sandra, who was living and working nearby.
20 October 2016 99 Dies.

Life as a widow

On 27 June 1968, after 25 years of marriage, Ruth was widowed when Bruce died suddenly at age 50. She never remarried. Ruth kept a photo of Bruce by her bedside for the rest of her life.

From July 1968 to March 2010, she lived on her own in a rented apartment at 18 The Donway East, in Don Mills, Ontario. Her phone number for those years was 416 444 6583.

Having moved a dozen times in her life, perhaps she was tired of decamping on a regular basis, and so she chose to remain in place for a long time.

Late-life career

At the age of 51, to make ends meet, Ruth took her first job since her piano-playing days 25 years earlier. She worked in some sort of clerical capacity at an insurance company for about ten years, from about 1968 to 1980. She retired in about 1980.

Retirement

After retirement, she continued to lead a tightly-regimented, independent life at her second-floor apartment. Her apartment frequently served as the meeting-point or stopover for her daughters and their families, and she would receive visitors on a frequent basis.

Somewhat oddly, she did not frequently visit or socialize with others beyond her daughters and grandchildren. She had several siblings within a few minutes' drive but she only infrequently saw them (perhaps once a year or less, at appointed family gatherings).

She had a close friendship with her stepfather's second wife Virginia Worstell of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were both widowed around the same time, and in the 1970s and 1980s they took trips together by train.

On 1 July 2007 she celebrated her 90th birthday at her daughter Sandra's home in Speyside, Ontario, between 13:00 and 17:00. The invitation letter to the family, from granddaughter Megan Kenzie, read in part:

The 90th Birthday of Everyone’s Favourite Relative:

Our lady of Don Mills, The Former High Jump Champion of Manitoulin Island, Piano Player Extraordinaire, Mother of the Newman Girls, Grandma, Great-Grandma, sister, sister-in-law, aunt…

Ruth Newman !
— Megan Kenzie, July 2007

Illness and death

She was healthy and lived independently until age 92, in early 2010.

In March 2010, a series of strokes forced her to be moved out of her longtime residence in Don Mills. She experienced severe damage to her ability to manage her emotions, as well as to remember anyone. She retained her ability to play intellectual games like word searches, and she would complete dozens of these puzzles a week until the end of her life. She also gradually lost the ability to speak.

She initially moved to Greenview Lodge, 880 Lawrence Avenue East, just up the street from her apartment.

The mothers have gone through everything from Grandma's apartment. Some stuff has gone with her. Special/valuable/nostalgic/useful items have been distributed between the mothers. Attached are a few photos of some of the things that are left. See following email for second set of pics. We are trying to clear most things out of the apartment this week, and the rest by mid-April. Let me know if you want anything you see here, and we will keep it.
— Email, Megan Kenzie, 21 March 2010

Later in 2010, she moved to Allandale Long Term Care, in Milton Ontario. She remained there for the next 6 years, with frequent visits and extra care provided by her daughter Sandra, who was living and working nearby.

She died 20 October 2016, at age 99, in her 100th year.

Sources

Self

Timeline was described to her grandson Michael Currie personally in 2003.